February block for Siblings Together Bee 2


I was going to make this month’s block for Siblings Together red, white and blue given this auspicious date for the UK and the EU but decided not to be political. However you view Brexit personally, and based on my Instagram feed it seems that most are ‘agin’ it, then we just have to let democracy be our guiding principle.

So in the spirit of neutrality I have gone for blues and greens which hopefully will provide a gender neutral quilt for a child in care separated from his or her sibling.

Incidentally there is a very powerful radio programme you can download/access from the app BBC Sounds called Separated Siblings under the series heading File on 4. If you have yet to download BBC Sounds app and you like radio this is an absolute gift. I’m not sure it can be reached from all over the world but if you are in the UK it’s easy peasy and this programme is both shocking and emotional at the same time.


Anyway onto our block for this month

I’ve chosen a block that was all the rage a few years ago called Trip around the World. I have no idea why it has that name. When I first started quilting there was a sew along  using this pattern and it looked very complicated to me. However one of the Bee mamas  did a similar style of block and I realised that in fact it was very easy, just clever cutting.

The actual quilt pattern is set out in the wonderful Bonnie Hunter’s Quiltville blog here. But as we are using different measurements to make smaller blocks I have replicated it below.

You will need for each block six strips 2.5” by 15.5” in different shades of blue and green and include please, one white/grey strip.


Sew these together along the long sides. The eventual pattern works better if you can put contrast between the strips. So for example if you have two dark strips, separate them. Iron seams on the back at this point, open or to one side whichever is your preference.


Now here comes the clever bit. Fold up on the long side of the block you have made……



….. and then sew along that seam.  You will now have in effect a tube of fabric  with the right side inside the tube and the wrong side on the outside of the tube.


Now lay the tube on your cutting mat and flatten out as much as possible and then sub cut that tube into 2.5” strips.



You will then be left with 6 strips such as these.


Now the next clever bit is to unpick one of the seams of one of the strips and lay that out. Then unpick the next seam along on the next strip so that you start to get the pattern of the squares going diagonally. This can be tricky and yes I have had to resew many a seam and unpick another when I have made this block.  Do that to all of the strips so they have diagonally running squares of the same print.


And then if necessary reassemble the strips so that the darkest fabric you have is the centre diagonal line of the block as is the case in the picture above and the finished blocks below.  Now sew the strips together to make the block.

Can you please make two of these. They are quite addictive so feel free to make more than two!!

Any queries please get in touch


If you are wondering what the furry thing is on which the strips are lying that is a large square of fleece stuck onto a piece of rigid plastic.  It was a tip I got from Kerry Green. It is just so you can move the unassembled block to your sewing machine with out everything moving. Invaluable.  

Siblings Together block for Bee 7 – All the birdsongs

It’s all about these fun improv birds this month for members of Bee 7. No don’t worry I’m not expecting you to make numerous birds it’s just I found these so addictive and fun to make I couldn’t stop! I would love 1 bird block from everyone but if you have time for a second that would be fab.

They are also wonderful for using scraps for the birds themselves at least.

Now for those who find improv not their thing then there is a free pattern on the website Blocklotto which gives all the measurements and how to assemble the bird. If you like to cut everything out to begin with and to precise measurements then this is the method to choose. They look just as charming and will come out at a block around 6″ by 9″ the pattern is here

However if you fancy doing this in an improv way then be my guest. I have to say it’s a perfect block for improv because the bird itself can be made to really any dimension and in fact the more variety the better. You will see I’ve got long legs, fat beaks, thin beaks, at least one wing that went wrong when I snowballed the wrong corner but it really doesn’t matter! I’ve added extra strips where I fancied!

I know many of you in this Bee are very experienced and can easily work out from the picture above how to make this block. To those bee members the only thing I’d say is the finished block needs to be no more than 10″ by 14″ (portrait or landscape) and any variant down to a min 6″ by 9″. And if you could consider doing one facing to the right that would be great. But for those who’d like a pointer as to the dimensions and some tips along the improv way please see below.

You will need 3 coloured fabrics, one for the wing, one for the body and one or two different fabrics for the beak and legs and any colours you fancy (and I don’t say that often!). You will also need around a half of a fat quarter of the neutral background which can be any grey/beige/white patterned or solid neutral as long as it is a good contrast to the bird fabrics you choose.

So to start cut out two right hand triangles that when sewn together will make a square (but don’t sew them together just yet!). One right handed triangle in the neutral and another in coloured fabric. This coloured fabric will be the bird’s wing. The sides can be anything from 4″ to 6.5″. The example given is 5″ and makes a medium sized bird.

Now you want the wing triangle to have two corners of the body fabric so it looks like this.

To do this you need to snowball scraps of the body fabric onto two corners of the wing triangle. If you are familiar with this method just skip the next few pics.

If you are new to this then the method for doing this is shown in the pictures below.

Using pretty much any size of body fabric just make sure that when you flip up the fabric it will cover the corner completely. Now sew it across

Flip up the triangle of the body fabric,

turn it over and ….

…. cut off the surplus body fabric using the existing corner as a template

Now trim off the excess fabric behind. Now be careful here, the number of times I have cut off the wrong corner….

Next step is to snowball the other triangle corner using the same method so it looks like this and again any size will do.

Now sew this modified wing triangle to the neutral background right hand triangle to make a square. Trim the square, mine came out at 4.5″, then cut out a body strip the length of the square and around 2″ or 3″ wide. This is the bird’s breast.

Using the snowball method add a corner of background fabric to the bottom of the body strip. Again this can be any size really.

Now prepare the beak section. Cut a strip of the background fabric the same length as the square and snowball the beak onto the top. This beak fabric strip can be any width.

Now sew all theses pieces together. Then cut and add a strip to the top the width of the pieced block. Then cut a piece the width of the block plus a couple of inches for the bottom of the block

With bottom piece make two cuts for the legs and insert the legs so they measure around 1/4″wide. You also need to ensure the legs, when pieced, will be under the body. Having that much extra length in the width of this fabric will give you that wriggle room.

Now sew together and voila!!

I hope the pictures have helped but if you have any queries please let me know.

Siblings Together Bee 4 September block

Another bee year, another bee block. But first a health warning. I’m mama for two Bees this month so please make sure you are following the right instructions…… I often get confused as well!! This block is for Bee 4 coordinated by Jane.

I thought I would give everyone a chance to attack their scrap mountain! And these blocks do use up a fair amount of scrap, I had to dig in twice and the blue scrap drawer definitely slides back in much better!

I would love 2 blocks please.

You will need 2 times 8.5″ squares of bright white fabric

A bunch of blue scraps, any variation of blue, in fact the more variety the better as you can see from the pictures. They need to be cut 5″ long but varying widths from 1.5″ to 3″

Sew the strips together joining the 5″ edges together until you get a 8.5″ length. Do try and make sure your start and finish strips are wider so you don’t have a seam right to one side. You will in fact need 2 times 8.5″ strips and 2 times 13″ strips.

Now sew the strips on as follows

Any finally please trim to 12.5″ square.

I hope that is reasonably straightforward. But any problems do let me know.

September Block for Siblings Together Threadhouse Retreat Bee

Welcome to a new Bee quilting year. It’s my turn to set a block and I’ve gone for a gentle start to the year with fairly straightforward snowballed blocks.

The catch? Well not really a catch but I’m again hoping for a quilt suitable for an older boy so dark or mid blues, mid or dark greys ideally with little or no white in them so there is quite a sharp contrast with the neutral corners. And as to the neutral, again white or very light grey and it can be a print or a solid. But for the snowballed corners I’d like to have bright white so those hourglass blocks really stand out.

I’d like 4 blocks please as pictured above, 2 with a dark centre and 2 with a light centre.

Please note I’d be grateful if you could sew 2 blocks together but not all four just in case I need to mix it up with all the blocks together. See picture below

So as to instructions.

Please cut 4 x 8.5″ squares, 2 dark and 2 light.

And then cut 16 x 2.5″ squares, 8 from dark fabric and 8 from bright white.

Now snowball corners to the relevant 8.5″ square. I’m sure you will know this technique but you simply lay on top of one of the corners of the 8.5″ square the contrasting 2 1/2 square in fabric and sew diagonally. You can eyeball it or if you prefer draw a pencil line or iron the small square diagonally and then sew along that line. When you iron back the small square you will see that you now have one corner of the larger square in the contrasting fabric. You will need to cut away the excess fabric. Before you join up the blocks you may want to trim it back to 8 1/2 inches. That of course depends on whether you are an accurate sewer or not. I always have to trim!

Then simply sew two squares together one of each type.

Many thanks. Any problems, as always get in touch.

Festival of Quilts 2019 – at speed!

I spent the entire year thinking that I wouldn’t be going to this year’s Festival of Quilts as it clashed with our annual holiday. The Festival of Quilts is the quilt show in the UK and some say Europe so it’s a fixture in many quilter’s calendars. For a variety of reasons we always have to book our holiday well ahead and I knew from the outset our plans precluded going to the Festival. So for that reason I didn’t pay much attention to news of the Festival until I happened to read a few days before the event a blog post by Jo, The Crafty Nomad on tips for surviving a quilt show (a good read incidentally). She mentioned the dates and it suddenly hit me that I could go albeit only on the first day. I’d forgotten that just after we’d booked the holiday our travel agent had had to push it back a couple of days. So set was I in my thinking I hadn’t realised that meant it gave me one small day of opportunity! But it was an opportunity I was definitely going to take.

The only problem was it was one day before we actually travelled. Where we go in South Africa is in the middle of nowhere so we do have to be quite thorough in our packing as if we forget anything then really that’s it. But as we’ve gone for so many years now our packing lists are very well honed. Also one of the benefits of having older children is they pretty much do their own packing so I escaped for three hours. It helps hugely that I live 30 minutes from the National Exhibition Centre where the Festival is held so travel time was pretty minimal compared to some who come from all over the world.

Nevertheless I literally only had two hours at the Festival. Madness really as you can easily spend two days through a combination of seeing the quilts on display and shopping. And don’t forget concurrent with the quilt show there is a whole program of classes, lectures and workshops. You can make a weekend of it without any difficulty at all and many do. So I had to prioritise where I was going to spend my time.

In fact for me that was relatively straightforward. I’m really trying not to buy more fabric until at least there is a dent in my current stash. I do make exceptions for the colour green. For some reason I never buy green so I have been forcing myself to buy green. Such a sacrifice! So the shopping opportunities weren’t really top of my list. But what I really wanted to do was see the quilt shows in particular the competitive shows which are divided into a number of categories such as Traditional, Modern, Two person, Group etc. Of course for me the one I particularly wanted to see was the Modern category.

Here are a few quilts that hit the button for me, not all are from the Modern category.

Anyway here goes

The first couple are by Jo Avery. Jo loves vibrant colours and she has a really strong signature style albeit she reigned it in for the second one. The link to her name above takes you to a cracking post about the quilt below. How to turn round a potential disaster so brilliantly!

The one below is by Jo Westfoot of the Crafty Nomad. The quilting was exquisite. She would be the first to say that she has been developing this skill in the last year or so and boy has she excelled!

This is probably my favourite quilt. So clever and effective.

Another one from Jo Avery

This one I saw kicked off years ago in a sew along. Mine is still languishing…..

This quilt is made entirely from log cabins. Oh the patience ….

This is Nicky Eglinton the amazing women that masterminds all the quilts for the charity Siblings Together. In order to further promote the charity she came up with the idea of a group quilt (another category) made up of a block from each of us involved.

This quilt is by Chris English. A clever use of recycled fabrics it looks like there’s someone’s old curtain in there to make the point of reusing fabric.

A see through English Paper Pieced quilt….. you could see from the back the maker had left the papers in so it had some structure

This used very shiny metallic fabric

Tearing around most of the categories snapping wildly and after coffee with Jackie one of the Siblings Together Bee members I didn’t really have any time to see any of the specialist exhibitions. The exception was the Bloomfield quilt exhibition. This was run by the UK’S Quilters’ Guild who asked each quilt section eg modern, traditional etc of the Guild to submit quilts for display inspired by one of their antique quilts from their collection Bloomfield quilt. There is more in this post. I was pleased mine got selected although my bubble of pride was somewhat burst when the organiser said in fact only a few weren’t displayed.

You will see in the bottom left hand corner my offering. It was starkly different to anyone else’s. In fact it was fun to see quite how different they all were, not just across traditional, modern et cetera but their interpretation. This was definitely a victim of my lack of time as I would love to spend much longer looking at each one but needs must.

Well it was a fun whirlwind visit and I’d do it again but next year I don’t have to! Fortuitously our holiday is mid/late August and the Festival early August so I’ve got two days pencilled in and I’m going round in leisure next year. It might mean two blog posts though….

Siblings Together Bee 7 July block – Rippling Sea

I love blocks that use up scraps as I try to reduce the volume of scraps so I can close the drawers that hold them! I came across this design on Pinterest and this very simple but effective block needs 2 pieces of fabric about 9.5″/10″ by 12″ each, perfect for larger scraps.

I’m after a blue quilt, but any shade of blue and it could be a solid blue or a print. (I know the block on the right looks black but it’s actually a dark blue!). Nothing too flowery please. The neutral needs to provide good contrast and preferably grey or white tones as opposed to tan/cream. I’m hoping that this will resemble the sea. We are land locked here in Solihull and we choose to holiday in a location that is also landlocked so I miss the sea.

Anyway as to what is needed please cut out 2 pieces of fabric 9.5″ by 12″.

Now let the slashing begin! You can slash pieces off and combine them as you go. But what I did was to put the fabrics both right side up and then make 5 or 6 cuts.

Please feel free to add in some wonk as I think that makes it look as if it’s rippling more. I then reassembled them thus. I put them on my wadding board which is just a piece of wadding on an old folder cover to take them over to the machine to sew. Easy peasy!

You will then need to join them together to make a block which I’d ask you to trim to16.5″ by 8.5″.

Top tip! When I was sewing these together I was a little haphazard with my seam allowance thinking I’d got masses of wriggle room. But in fact when I combined the above two blocks together it was still short of 16 1/2 inches long so I had to add another strip. Hardly the end of the world but one to watch.

Any problems or queries please reach out as always.

Oh and remember we don’t make blocks in August so these don’t have to get to me until September. And yes where’s the summer gone!

Siblings Together July block for Bee 4

A word of caution to start with, I’m Mama for two bees the month of July so this is for bee members of. Bee. It’s easy to get confused, I am afraid it happens to me very frequently but at least this block design is going out on time!

Its a nice and simple block of just half square triangles (hst). I saw the design on Rachel’s Stitched in Color. She is a regular blogger and well worth following not just for quilty inspiration, of which there is masses, but she shares her life, stuff like the hugely brave adventure of moving to The Netherlands from the USA. I had also seen the design in a quilt magazine so it’s not unique but another way, out of myriads, of using hsts.

So the plan is quite simple. I’d like you to make two complete blocks. Each block contains 8 hsts. The hst need to be 4 1/2 inches unfinished size and then when they go into the block they will become 4″ finished size. I will leave you to choose the best method for you for doing hst. There are multiple of ways and we all have our favourite.

My preferred method is using Bonnie Hunter’s Essential Triangle Tool. The downside is you are sewing on the diagonal as opposed to the straight but the upside is the speed. You cut strips, you put them right sides together, you cut triangle pairs and then chain sew them together. Provided your 1/4″ seam is good (well good enough…) then they don’t need trimming other than one dog ear.

As to colour I am relaxed but I was thinking no especially bright colours or any primary colours, so no bright red, bright blue etc You will see I’ve chosen prints but no primary colours. As to neutral as long as there is a good contrast and it is light then go for it.

If you recall we have August off to allow for most of us who will be away a part of the next two months. So no rush…

Have a good few weeks and enjoy the summer.

Living Coral – Pantone quilt challenge.


A night shot to get in before the deadline


…and a day shot when at last after the wettest and greyish of June weeks the sun appeared

Quilt name: Coral Glitter

Size: 43” by 37”

Location: UK

Each year Pantone, the colour advisory organisation comes out with a colour of the year. I’m not entirely sure of the purpose of picking one colour but I guess the idea  is to promote Pantone and to get people excited about  a particular colour and how it can be used in fashion and styling. Anyway it’s the perfect  excuse for a challenge  to Quilters to make a quilt featuring that colour. Rebecca of Bryan Quilts and Sarah of No Hats in the House are hosting it this year.

This year it is Living Coral.


The last time I participated was 2015 when the colour was Marsala, a burgundy brown, no not the colour of a curry!


Since then the colours have been purple, bright green and a weird pink/ baby blue combo.  None really inspired me but I like coral so I thought I would go well out of my colour comfort zone and blend it with some other colours to make an improv curvy design.

As to design I’d always liked pointy shapes like diamonds, Jen Kingwell’s Glitter block (in honour of  which this quilt is named) and the periwinkle block. I was further  inspired by an unattributed  wood block design on Pinterest that appealed to me but I reworked it into curves and  different colours using fabric of course and it became this quilt.

I first sketched it out in TouchDraw, the poor man’s EQ software! It was very helpful in pinning down the colours. Also by fluke I extended the background and got  that large negative space to one side which made it for me as a design.

As you can see it’s pretty similar  although rather rough and  ready.


All the fabrics are Kona and the main colour is Curry, along with Nectarine, Green Tea, Bone, Mediterranean and Overcast. They have such nice names. Someone must have fun thinking them up. It’s interesting how the coral really brings the piece alive.

Assembly was frankly quite a headache. A range of methods were used from the inset circle method using freezer paper, improv curves for the very gentle curves and those that are more pronounced I fitted it up on the design wall. It was like a steps exercise class as I needed steps to reach my design wall and I was up and down, up and down….


It was also a little  bit like dressmaking as I pinned the pieces in place. It was assembled in curved pieces…



The final assembled quilt top was a bit baggy in places so needed a fair bit of readjustment to get it flat, well flatter! You can see the amount of flapping on the bottom section. For some reason the top section and the pieced middle were pretty good but it all went pear shaped, quite literally, in those bottom sections.


As to quilting I just wanted something very simple but with bags of texture and went for match stick quilting, well not actually matchstick width, a  bit fatter than that but I was nervous that too much quilting might dilute the design.. I used a range of different coloured threads to match the fabrics in the quilt.


One departure from usual was not to use double wadding which I would always do for a wall hanging  but have one layer as usual but use a layer of headliner fabric. This is the material which is a very thin foam  on one side and fabric on the other which is used to upholster the inside of ceiling of cars.  It looks as boring as this, even Felix is unimpressed.  …..


But headliner is fantastic stuff, it’s cheap, it gives great structure to bags and 3d objects and I just wondered whether it would work for this wall hanging. Sewing through to quilt it was relatively easy but it does need pin basting. For some reason the usual adhesive basting glue I use just doesn’t cut the mustard. And it does make the quilt more unwieldy when you are wrangling it through a domestic sewing machine at the quilting stage. But overall it gives a nice firmness to the quilt, perfect for a wall hanging but not perfect for one that you want to snuggle up in.

its been a bit of a mad dash to get this finished. I thought I’d done that earlier today and even was so well organised I had taken outdoor pictures.


Can you see the difference? When I looked at the original quilt in the top photo it didn’t look enough like  the original design on TouchDraw, crucially no right hand border and it looked out of balance. So nearly 4 hours later it looked much better but no outdoor picture as it was midnight here. The deadline is 5am UK time so plenty of time…..!!

UPDATE Snooked one in when the sun came out the next day. Nothing beats natural light!!


Siblings Together Bee 2 – Courthouse Corners

So sorry everyone in Bee 2, this one slipped me by, my excuse? It’s GCSE season in my household with the twins having some 40 plus exams between them. One of them has been working hard and diligently revising the other one hasn’t. I have one of each and I will let you guess whether it’s my daughter or my son putting the effort in and the other winging it!

For non UK readers these are mandatory exams for 16 year olds that the lead onto either further academic or vocational. I’m afraid I’ve been rather distracted…… we are 11 days until the finish line.  But Sue very gently nudged me. I don’t think it’s the first time…..

Anyway this is the June block for Bee 2.

The sharp eyed will note that one of those strips is thinner than the others. This was a cutting mistake…

Four of these blocks make a scrappy cross as pictured at the top. But just to say I only need you to make 1 or 2 at most depending on time, fabric and energy.

When looking for inspiration I often drop by Ashley’s Film in the Fridge blog. She has some great quilt designs which she doesn’t sell but are the type that are perfect for Bees. They are nearly always use scraps, all relatively straightforward but pack a lot of punch for the simplicity  of the  block.

I thought we’d have a go at Courthouse Corners

These are absolutely perfect for scraps of the thin variety, even better when you can sew shorter lengths together. I have even used a scrap strip set I used from the very first quilt I made from a jelly roll! As you can see I’d like blue/green colours of all varieties, prints, solids etc.

You will also need plenty of a bright white solid.

Please use a scant 1/4″ seam.

I made four so you can see the effect and they used a large amount of blue/green scraps I’m pleased to say. The first step is to make the centre.

This requires

3.5″ blue or green square

2 strips 3.5″ by 2.5″ strip

2 strips 7.5″ by 2.5″

Assemble them thus

Sewn together they will look like this and should be 7.5″ square

For the outer strips I’d cut to order 2″ coloured strips and a bunch of 2″ bright white strips. They need to minimum be a 7.5″ long up to 13.5″ long. I got through this amount for 4 blocks

Add to the 7.5″ square thus in the court step way rather than log cabin which takes more time ironing

The next set of strips go here

And then again turning the block 90 degrees then add two more strips….

And add the final strips to make the block

The block can remain untrimmed but if you are keen please trim to 13.25″. It should theoretically come in at 13.5″ but shaving it down a1/4″ gives some wriggle room.

As you can see I had help…..

Well the great thing about this block and other bee block I’ve done for Bee 7 my blue scarp drawer closes very easily now.

June blocks for Siblings Together Bee 7

C8385666-A9DD-4A7E-9FC7-DC4391570F73Sorry everyone that May didn’t quite happen. I know the Mama was very busy and she did try to send something out but it didn’t arrive with me and the others who were wondering. I’ve checked my junk  because it always surprises how many legitimate emails get lodged there but it wasn’t lurking there although what was was the next mini block drive for ST which looks great fun.

No worries. I am the mama for June so I thought I’d send the blocks out a little earlier than usual  so those who are raring to go can get stuck in.

Here are the blocks.  They will be great for using up blue scrap strings.


In terms of fabrics  you will need a bunch of blue strips around 1” – 3” wide. They can be solids or blue prints where the blue predominates. With each block can you please add a flash of red strip, preferably solid or reads as solid and red not pink or purple. And then to surround the block just a strip of bright white. I would love to have a minimum of three blocks please.

To make them, it’s improv all the way…

I used a 6.5” square ruler just to keep checking the strip square kept to 6.5”. Alternatively you could use paper and actually sew onto that as a foundation.  Your choice.  But what you do need to end up with is a 6 1/2 inch square block of blue strips with one red stripe somewhere in it. The strips can be straight or wonky again it’s up to you But I would like them, as mine have, go diagonally as opposed to straight up or across.

Here are some process shots



When you have your finished strip block, cut from bright white  fabric, 2 strips 1.5” by 6.5” and 2 strips 1.5” by 8.5” and sew as the picture below. Please trim the final blocks to 8.5” square. Use a scant 1/4” seam with these outer white border strips. I speak from bitter experience …..




Any queries or issues don’t hesitate to get back in touch.